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UCLan student makes soap opera history

13 October 2015

Riley joins EastEnders cast  

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) acting student will make UK television soap opera history by being the first ever transgendered actor to play a transgender character in a continuing role.

Riley Carter Millington was two years into his acting degree at UCLan when he was snapped up to play the part of Kyle in EastEnders. The 21-year-old’s debut scenes will be screened later this month, with Riley making a permanent return at the end of the year.

He said: “I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders. I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor.

"I cannot wait to really get stuck in with filming and I look forward to seeing what is in store for my character."

 

"I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor."

Riley auditioned for the role of Kyle earlier this year after EastEnders soap's executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins announced he was creating a transgendered character and expressed a determination to have a transgender actor in the role. After working alongside groups within the transgendered community and running workshops to find the right actor for the role, Riley was chosen to play Kyle.

Senior lecturer Terence Chapman is the course leader for the acting degree at UCLan. He said: “Riley was always a very positive student and showed great dedication in his time at UCLan.

“It’s really exciting and inspiring for our current students and alumni to see this happening in such a competitive profession. The BA (Hons) Acting team would like to wish Riley all the success he deserves.”

The show’s boss also insisted that Millington's casting should in no way be seen as a box-ticking exercise. "In Riley, we have found not just a talented actor but also an inspirational young man whose warmth immediately comes through the screen."

 

"I hope that the audience will take Riley and his character to their hearts as quickly as everyone here at EastEnders has done."

He continued: "And this isn’t about tokenism. Alex Lamb and his story team have worked with Riley to create an EastEnders character who is fresh and relatable – but also comes with his own stock of secrets and is going to be thrown right into one of our biggest stories for the end of the year.

"I hope that the audience will take Riley and his character to their hearts as quickly as everyone here at EastEnders has done."

Riley is the latest in a succession of UCLan acting students and alumni to land high profile TV roles.

Last year Thomas Hardman played Archie Radler in the BBC1 drama Our Zoo and 2013 Graduate Sarah George now appears regularly on our screens as Celine McQueen in Hollyoaks. Sarah followed in the footsteps of 2009 acting graduate Mandip Gill who left Hollyoaks earlier this year after a four-year run as Pheobe McQueen.